Sustainable Resource Management
A Community Issue

By Dr. Rashid Qaisrani, Queensland - Australia
June 2000

The author used to work for Punjab Agriculture and now living in Australia and managing his farm with particularly interest in Conservation Farming Practices.

Why the need?

It is becoming more and more apparent that the conditions of natural resource in Pakistan is in decline, through the impact of human use of land and water. For examples of obvious impacts, we need look no further than water-logging and salinity in irrigated land, poor water quality, losses of native species and loss of wetlands and disappearing of vegetation in the dryland (Barani) areas where it is mostly needed, over extraction of groundwater (acquifier being dried up in Balochistan), over grazing, no training and lack of information to the community. The community should be kept well informed of the planning, they should rather be encouraged to participate in the planning phase.

Evidence such as this lays no doubt on the sustainability of present resource use. Not only are remedies needed for current problems, but also better management is needed for the future. Otherwise, we can expect gradual loss of natural resource base and the productive capacity. Professionals are not the only one concerned, the broader community has started feeling the effect of natural resource degradation throughout Balochistan.

What to achieve?

Sustainability is a basic goal of natural resource management - the achieving of far greater integration of environmental, social and economic values in resource management. Government action alone will not be sufficient to surmount even existing problems. The more critical role will be with private organisations and individuals. Even more important will be marrying of government and private efforts and making the government expenditures apparenbt to the public. The government officers need to improve their image in the wider community rather than expecting the public to enter into their officer bare footed after waiting outside for hours and days. Many practical measures can be taken and need support. Among them are:

  1. Improved information, better understanding and better access to resource data.
  2. An agreed understanding of what community wants to achieve.
  3. Development and implementation of priority strategies for management, through the Total Catchment Management (TCM) initiative.
  4. Development of optimal management strategies.
  5. 5. Expansion of restoration programs.

Breaking the vicious circle

It is very clear that the people of these areas are not able to cope with drought. In view of the present and impending resource degradation, it is clear that the current application of financial resources is not enough for rectification of existing problems and future management of the resource use. But to gain more finance will require the breaking of a vicious circle of dwindling agency funds and growing requirements. The circle has come about through a situation of less State Rupees to share between agencies, combined with a very progressive Total Catchment Management movement which is increasing client demand for agencies' core business services and creating new levels of service expectations. Breaking the circle is the first hurdle. It may require a more rational basis of charging for government agency services, better use of external funding sources, catchment based lives, the creation of catchment trusts - all these measures or some combination of them. An important ingredient should be the community having a say in priorities for government funds, through catchment management committees (need to be establishment in the broader community), and seeing that the use of funds matches the priority needs for sustainability.


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